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O'Brien favored, but Texans talking with other coaching candidates

The SportsXchange

Penn State's Bill O'Brien may be the favorite to be the next coach of the Houston Texans, but negotiations are still ongoing and owner Bob McNair might interview other candidates next week, a source close to the team told The Sports Xchange on Saturday night.

And in O'Brien's case, money is an issue. Although Penn State reduced his buyout from $19.33 million to about $6.48 million, the coach and the NFL team are seeking common ground on salary, according to the source, who added that a deal may be close anyway.

Meantime, John McClain of the Houston Chronicle reported Saturday that interviews with other candidates are scheduled next week.

"The process continues," McNair told McClain. "We have other interviews scheduled next week. It isn't over."

The Texans have already interviewed former Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith and current interim head coach Wade Phillips.

After ESPN reported that O'Brien was close to signing, he told his Penn State recruits that he was still on board there, which is what coaches in that situation always say.

Before coaching the Nittany Lions, O'Brien was an assistant coach with the New England Patriots for six years and the offensive coordinator when they lost to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI.

O'Brien, 44, went 7-5 in his second season as Penn State's coach. He was named Big Ten coach of the year in 2012. He is rebuilding the Nittany Lions since the school was hit with sanctions stemming from the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse scandal.

O'Brien interviewed for the Philadelphia Eagles and Cleveland Browns head coaching jobs last offseason. Penn State made it easier for O'Brien to leave for the NFL by reducing the buyout teams would have to pay the school for hiring him. There have been recent talks of reducing the NFL buyout even more.

Houston fired Gary Kubiak as head coach earlier this month.

The Texans (2-13) will own either the No. 1 or No. 2 overall pick in next year's draft.
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